COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State senior guard William Buford knew that he had to keep shooting to get out of his slump that has plagued him all season. On Wednesday night he found his stroke with a 10-16 shooting night that netted 23 points and six assists as Ohio State (5-0) outran and outshot VMI (3-2) for a 107-74 win.
The Bucks got off to a quick start, a feat that the team had not been able to do in previous games and had a 20 point lead in 9:23 of work.
VMI was led by Keith Gabriel who had 21 points and Ron Burks had 19 points. The Keydets were held to 38.5-percent shooting but did manage to cut the lead to nine points in the first half as the Buckeyes struggled closing out on the VMI shooters, especially from outside the arc. The road team put up 30 three-pointers and hit on nine of them.
"We had good flow early but lost the momentum," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "When you play a team like VMI, you're going to get pressure for 40 minutes. Our guys did a decent job down the stretch finishing plays to win the game."
Ohio State responded well in the second half after taking a 57-44 lead to the locker room. The Buckeyes went on a 32-7 run to start off the half. The Bucks ran the first three scores through Sullinger went 4-6 in the second half but only played for eight minutes in the second frame.
"I have to make it easier on the passers," Sullinger said after the game. "I have to post up harder so these freshmen and some of the sophomores that didn't play as much last year have confidence to throw it down there in the post."
VMI head coach Duggar Baucom joked after the game that he knew his team was going to be in for a challenge against the No. 3 ranked Buckeyes. The Keydets received 85-thousand dollars for the game in Columbus but Baucom put things in perspective after the game.
"I think we would have had more luck against their football team," Baucom said.
The Buckeyes were able to empty the bench and get playing time for the younger players. The freshmen fared well with Shannon Scott knocking down eight points and four assists, Sam Thompson had eight points as well while Amir Williams was held scoreless but had four blocks.
J.D. Weatherspoon brought down the house with his ten points with several acrobatic dunks including a highlight worthy alley-oop.
Matta is now three wins away from the 300-win mark and has tallied 195 wins with the Buckeyes.
He's a great coach," Buford said. "I wouldn't want to play for any other coach in the world. He's just a great coach to be around as are all the assistants he has around him."
Ohio State doesn't have time to rest and enjoy Thanksgiving on Thursday. The Buckeyes play again on Friday against Valparaiso (5-1) on short rest. The lack of practice may concern Matta and the coaches but the players seem to like it.
"For college players it is a dream week," Sullinger said. "Three games in five days means less practice."
The Buckeyes had 30 assists in the game and have not had that many since December of 1990 when Jimmy Jackson led team had 30. The team record is 31 but you have to go back to 1975 for a game against Michigan State to get to that number.